Dawn of a Nation:
Palazzo Strozzi, Florence
Blame it on Elena Ferrante, the cult Italian author whose blistering novels about a pair of best friends growing up in Naples during the 1950s and ’60s – postwar Italy has been firmly on the cultural radar for the past few years. Fittingly, Dawn of a Nation, a major exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, provides a snapshot of an era defined by the legacy of fascism as well as wide-scale protests and political upheavals that would change the face of Italian society. It also showcases the breadth and depth of creative expression and radical experimentation that characterised the postwar Italian art scene,
a microcosm that wrestled with Realism and Abstraction, conceived a local Pop Art vernacular and arrived at Arte Povera, a language that’s informed a new generation of artist and makers including the Milanese furniture designer Martino Gamper. The exhibition, which features 80 works by artists such as Renato Guttuso, Alberto Burri and Piero Manzoni, includes iconic pieces such as a vandalised Mussolini poster by Mimmo Rotella and the now-legendary Merda d’artista (artist’s shit, 1961) by Manzoni. Although the jury is still out about whether this series of 80 cans – produced in the artist’s father’s canning factory – contains human excrement or plaster, Manzoni’s critique of the class mores that shape the art market still stands decades on. Dawn of a Nation
is curated by Luca Massimo Barbero and shows until July 22, 2018.